New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought response from the Centre and the Election Commission of India on a plea to debar people charged with serious criminal offences from contesting elections which at present is applicable only to a convicted person.
A bench headed by Justice RM Lodha issued notice to the government and the Commission asking them to file their response within eight weeks.
The court passed the order on a PIL filed by a group of NGOs urging the court to frame guidelines for debarring even those candidates who have been charged for a criminal offence.
"Lay down appropriate guidelines/ framework to ensure that those charged with serious criminal offences are unable to enter the political arena by contesting elections and lay down a time frame of six months during which trial of such
persons are concluded in a time-bound manner," advocate KK Mohan, appearing for the petitioner, submitted.
The petitioner also urged the bench to direct the Government to consider the feasibility of enacting legislation to deal with the menace of criminalisation of politics and debar those charged with serious offences from contesting
elections of any sort.
"This is evidenced by the declarations made by candidates in the 2009 general elections, which indicate that there were 275 serious criminal cases pending against 76 of the successful candidates in the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha,"
the petitioner said .
"Unfortunately the infiltration of politics by criminals has continued unabated. Might and money power have managed to prevail in elections in India and the common man is unable to exercise his right to vote based on adult suffrage freely and without fear or favour," the petitioner said.